Nearly half a million were left without electricity for 15 hours after 18 substations were blown up Oct. 27 in a wave of coordinated attacks across Mexico’s west-central state of Michoacán, the latest battleground in the country’s relentless cartel wars. Six gasoline stations were also burned down near the state capital Morelia, in what authorities said was a terror campaign by the Knights Templar cartel. Gov. Fausto Vallejo Figueroa of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) said the violence was set off by the Jalisco Cartel, based in the neighboring state of that name, seeking to “seize territory” controlled by the Knights Templars in Michoacán, and warned of a “great massacre” (matazón).
That same day, at least five people were killed in a gun battle at the city hall in Apatzingán, one of the state’s principal towns. The state prosecutor’s office said the dead were all men in their early 20s or younger, but did not identify what faction they belonged to. The shoot-out seems to have been between a local narco gang and the town’s “community police”—one of several citizens self-defense patrols that have emerged around the state in response to the escalating violence. Leaders of the local “community police” force put the death toll at 13 and said nearly all were part of the criminal gang.
The day before the attack, some 3,000 “community police” members from outlying communities held an unarmed march on Apatzingán, to protest that army troops had withdrawn from their communities to the barracks of the 43rd Military Zone in the town, leaving the pueblos under a “state of siege” by the Knights Templars. Leaders of the villages of Aguililla, Coalcoman, Tepalcatepec and Buenavista called on federal forces to carry out a vigorous crackdown on the cartel. (EFE, Correo, Guanajuato, Oct. 29; 24 Horas, Michoacán, LAT, AP, Oct. 28)
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